How Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun’s Painting Conquered Europe

New York| 31 January

This January in New York, Sotheby’s is honored to present A Scholar Collects, a sale comprised of paintings, drawings and sculpture from the collection of the preeminent scholar Joseph Baillio. A visionary art historian who specializes in the art of eighteenth-century France, Baillio is most well-known for his expertise in the pioneering woman artist Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. Covering the scope of the artist’s illustrious career, the collection includes an early portrait of her mother, Madame Jacques François Le Sèvre, painted when Vigée was perhaps in her late teens. More typical of the intimate portrait style that she pioneered is the stunning and impressive pastel portrait of the Duchesse de Guiche, a sitter that she would paint again during her years in exile from France. Most surprising are a group of pastel landscapes made in the opening years of the 19th Century, when Vigée was traveling in England and France. These are works of great lyricism, and appear to be decades before their time. The gem, however, is the beautiful Self-Portrait in Traveling Costume, dateable to just after her departure from France in late 1789.

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